Part 2 out of 7
calls the one that is most yellow, Mike; and the one that is most white,
Pat. Do you think Mike and Pat are pretty names, Aunt Kate?"
"Well, I can't say that my esthetic sense fairly swoons with delight at
sound of Mike and Pat," she laughed.
"I'll tell you, Worthie," she suggested, looking up with twinkling eye
after her young nephew had been experimenting with various intonations of
Mike--Pat, Pat--Mike, "why don't you call one of them _Pourquoi_?"
He walked right into it with the never-failing "Why?"
"Just so. Call one _Pourquoi_ and the other _N'est-ce-pas_. They do good
team work in both the spirit and the letter. _Pourquoi_, Worth, is your
favorite word in French. Need I add that it means 'why'? And
_N'est-ce-pas_--well, Watts would say _N'est-ce-pas_ meant 'ain't it'?
and more flexible translators find it to mean anything they are seeking
to persuade you is true. Pourquoi is the inquirer and N'est-ce-pas the
universalist. I trust Watts will give this his endorsement."
"I'll ask him," gravely replied Worth, and sought to accustom the puppies
to their new names with chanting--Poor Qua--Nessa Pa. The chant grew so
melancholy that the puppies subsided; oppressed, overpowered, perhaps,
with the sense of being anything as large and terrible as inquirer and
But Worth was too true a son of the army to leave a brooding damsel long
alone in the corner. "You seen the new cow?" was his friendly approach.
"Why, I don't believe I have," she confessed.
"I s'pose you've seen the chickens?" he asked, a trifle condescendingly.
Ann shamefacedly confessed that she had not as yet seen the chickens.
He took a step backward for the weighty, crushing: "Well, you've seen the
_horses_, haven't you?"
"Aunt Kate--Aunt Kate!" he called peremptorily, as Ann humbly shook her
head, "Miss Ann's not seen the cow--or the, chickens--nor the horses!"
"Isn't it scandalous?" agreed Kate. "It shows what sort of hostess I am,
doesn't it? But you see, Worth, I thought as long as you were coming so
soon you could do the honors of the stables. I think it's always a little
more satisfactory to have a man do those things."
"I'll take you now," announced Worth, in manner which brooked neither
delay nor gratitude.
And so the girl and the little boy and the two puppies, the joy of motion
freeing them from the sad weight of inquirer and universalist, started
across the lawn for the stables. Pourquoi caught at Ann's dress and she
had to be manfully rescued by Worth. And no sooner had the inquirer been
loosened from one side than the universalist was firmly fastened to the
other and the rescue must be enacted all over again, amid considerable
confusion and laughter. Ann's laugh was borne to Katie on a wave of the
spring--just the laugh of a girl playing with a boy and his dogs.
It was a whole hour later, and as Kate was starting out for golf she saw
Ann and Worth sitting on the sandpile, a tired inquirer and very weary
universalist asleep at their feet. Ann was picking sand up in her hands
and letting it sift through. Worth was digging with masculine vigor. Kate
passed close enough to hear Ann's, "Well, once upon a time--"
Ann!--opening to a little child the door of that wondrous country of Once
upon a Time! No mother had ever done it more sweetly, with more tender
zeal, more loving understanding of the joys and necessities of Once upon
a Time. Some once upon a time notions of Kate's were quite overturned by
that "once upon a time" voice of Ann's. Then the once upon a time of the
sandpile did not shut them out--they who had known another once upon a
time? Did it perhaps love to take them in, knowing that upon the sands of
this once upon a time the other could keep no foothold?
"Once upon a Time--Once upon a Time"--it kept singing itself in her ears.
For her, too, it opened a door.
Having conquered the son, Katie that evening set vigorously about for the
conquest of the father.
"The trouble is," she turned it over in giving a few minutes to her own
toilet for dinner, after having given many minutes to Ann's, "that
there's simply no telling about Wayne. He is just the most provokingly
uncertain man now living."
And yet it was not a formidable looking man she found in the library a
few minutes before the dinner hour. He was poring over some pictures of
Panama in one of the weeklies, sufficiently deep in them to permit Katie
to sit there for the moment pondering methods of attack. But instead of
outlining her campaign she found herself concluding, what she had
concluded many times before, that Wayne was very good-looking. "Not
handsome, like Harry Prescott," she granted, "but Wayne seems the product
of something--the result of things to be desired. He hasn't a new look."
"Katherine is going to give us more trouble than Wayne ever will," their
mother had sighed after one of those escapades which made life more
colorful than restful during Katie's childhood. To which Major Jones
replied that while Kate might give them more trouble, he thought it
probable Wayne would give himself the more. Certain it had been from the
first that if Wayne could help it no one would know what trouble he might
be giving himself.
Old-fashioned folk who expected brothers and sisters to be alike had, on
the surface at least, a sorry time with Wayneworth and Katherine Jones.
Katie was sunny. Katie had a genius for play. She laughed and danced up
and down the highways and the byways of life and she had such a joyous
time about it that it had not yet occurred to any one to expect her to
help pay the fiddler. Just watching Katie dance would seem pay enough
for any reasonable fiddler. Katie laughed a great deal, and was smiling
most of the time; she seemed always to have things in her thoughts to
make smiles. Wayne laughed little and some of his smiles made one
understand how the cat felt about having its fur rubbed the wrong way.
Their friend Major Darrett once said: "When I meet Katie I have a fancy
she has just come from a jolly dip in the ocean; that she lay on the
sands in the sun and kicked up her heels longer than she had any
business to, and now she's flying along to keep the most enchanting
engagement she ever had in all her life. She's smiling to herself to
think how bad she was to lie in the sand so long, and she's not at all
concerned, because she knows her friends will be so happy to see her
that they'll forget to scold her for being late. Katie's spoiled," the
Major concluded, "but we like her that way."
Of Wayne this same friend remarked: "Wayne's a hard nut to crack."
Many army people felt that way. In fact, Wayne was a nut the army itself
had not quite cracked. Some army people maintained that Wayne was
disagreeable. But that may have been because he was not just like all
other army people. He did not seem to have grasped the idea that being
"army" set him apart. Sometimes he made the mistake of judging army
affairs by ordinary standards. That was when they got some idea of how
the cat felt. And of all cats an army cat would most resent having its
fur rubbed in any but the prescribed direction.
Katie, continuing her ruminations about Wayne as the product of things,
had come to see that with it all he was detached from those desirable
things which had produced him. One knew that Wayne had traditions, yet he
was not tradition fettered; he suggested ancestors without being ancestor
conscious. Was it the gun--as Wayne the Worthy persisted in calling
it--and the gun's predecessors--for Wayne always had something--made him
so distinctly more than the mere result of things which had formed him?
"It is the gun," Katie decided, taking him in with half shut eyes as a
portrait painter might. "Had the same ancestors myself, and yet I'm both
less and more of them than he is. What I need's a gun! Then I'd stand out
of the background better, too." Then with one of Katie's queer twists of
fancy--Ann! Might not Ann be her gun? Perhaps she had been wanting a gun
for a long time without knowing what it was she was wanting when surely
wanting something. Perhaps every one felt the gun need to make them less
the product and more the person.
Then there was another thing. The thing that had traced those lines about
Wayne's mouth, and had whitened, a little, the brown hair of his temples.
Wayne had cared for Clara. Heaven only knew how he could--Katie's
thoughts ran on. Perhaps heaven did understand those things--certainly it
was too much for mere earth. Why Wayne, about whom there had always
seemed a certain brooding bigness, certainly a certain rare indifference,
should have fallen so absurdly in love with the most vain and selfish and
vapid girl that ever wrecked a post was more than Katie could make out.
And it had been her painful experience to watch Wayne's disappointment
develop, watch that happiness which had so mellowed him recede as day by
day Clara fretted and pouted and showed plainly enough that to her love
was just a convenient thing which might impel one's husband to get one a
new set of furs. She remembered so well one evening she had been in
Clara's room when Wayne came in after having been away since early
morning. So eager and tender was Wayne's face as he approached Clara, who
was looking over an advertising circular. There was a light in his eyes
which it would seem would have made Clara forget all about advertising
circulars. But before he had said a word, but stood there, loving her
with that look--and it would have to be admitted Clara did look lovely,
in one of the _neglige_ affairs she affected so much--she said, with a
babyish little whine she evidently thought alluring: "I just don't see,
Wayne, why we can't have a new rug for the reception room. We can
certainly afford things as well as the Mitchells." And Wayne had just
stood there, with a smile which closed the gates and said, with an irony
not lost upon Katie, at least: "Why I fancy we can have a new rug, if
that is the thing most essential to our happiness." Clara had cried: "Oh
Wayne--you _dear_!" and twittered and fluttered around, but the
twittering and fluttering did not bring that light back to Wayne's face.
He went over to the far side of the room and began reading the paper, and
that grim little understanding smile--a smile at himself--made Katie
yearn to go over and wind her arms about his neck--dear strange Wayne who
had believed there was so much, and found so little, and who was so alive
to the bitter humor of being drawn to the heart of things only to be
pushed back to the outer rim. But Katie knew it was not her arms could do
any good, and so she had left the room, not clear-eyed, Clara still
twittering about the kind of rug she would have. And day by day she had
watched Wayne go back to the outer circle, that grim little smile as
mile-stones in his progress.
But he was folding his paper; it was growing too near the hour to
speculate longer on Wayne and his past.
"Wayne?" she began.
He looked up, smiling at the beseeching tone. "Yes? What is it, Katie?
Just what brand of boredom are you planning to inflict?"
"You can be _so_ nice, Wayne--when you want to be."
"'Um--hum. A none too subtle way of calling a man a brute."
"I presume there are times when you can't help being a brute, Wayne; but
I do hope to-night will not be one of them."
"Why it must be something very horrible indeed, that you must approach
with all this flaunting of diplomacy."
"It is something a long way from horrible, I assure you," she replied
with dignity. "Ann will be down for dinner to-night, Wayne."
He leaned back and devoted himself to his cigarette with maddening
deliberation. Then he smiled. "Through sleeping?"
"Wayne--I'm in earnest. Please don't get yourself into a hateful mood!"
He laughed in real amusement at sight of Katie's puckered face. "I am
conscious that feminine wiles are being exercised upon me. I
"Because I am so anxious you should like Ann, Wayne, and--be nice to
"Why?" Again it was that probing, provoking why.
"Because of what she means to me, I suppose."
Something in her voice made him look at her differently. "And what does
she mean to you, Katie?"
"Ann is different from all the other girls I've known. She
"Strange I've never heard you speak of her."
"I think you have, and have forgotten. Though possibly not--just because
of the way I feel about her." She paused, seeking to express how she felt
about her. Unable to do so, she concluded simply: "I have a very tender
feeling for Ann."
"I see you have," he replied quietly. He looked at her meditatively, and
then asked, humorously but gently: "Well Katie, what were you expecting
me to do? Order her out of the house?"
"But I want you to be more than civil, Wayne; I want you to be
"I'll be civil and you can bring Prescott on for the sympathetic," he
laughed. "You know I haven't great founts of sympathy gushing up in my
heart for the _jeune fille_."
"Ann's not the _jeune fille_, Wayne. She's something far more interesting
and worth while than that." She paused, again trying to get it, but could
do no better than: "I sometimes think of Ann as sitting a little apart,
listening to beautiful music."
He smiled. "I can only reply to that, Katie, that I trust she is more
inviting than your pictures of her. A young woman who looked as though
sitting apart listening to beautiful music should certainly be left
"I'll bring her down," laughed Kate, rising; "then you can get your
"I'll be decent, Katie," he called after her in laughing but
The meeting had been accomplished. Dinner had reached the salad, and all
was well. Yes, and a little more than well.
From the moment she stood in the doorway of Ann's room and the girl
rose at her suggestion of dinner, Katie's courage had gone up. Ann's
whole bearing told that she was on her mettle. And what Katie found
most reassuring was less the results of the effort Ann was making
than her unmistakable sense of the necessity for making it. There was
hope in that.
Not that she suggested anything so hopeless as effort. She suggested
reserve feeling, and she was so beautiful--so rare--that the
suggestion was of feeling more beautiful and rare than a determination
to live up to the way she was gowned. Her timidity was of a quality
which seemed related to things of the spirit rather than to social
embarrassment. Jubilantly Kate saw that Ann meant to "put it over,"
and her depth of feeling on the subject suggested a depth which in
itself dismissed the subject.
She saw at a glance that Wayne related Ann to the things her appearance
suggested rather than to the suggestions causing that appearance. As
Katie said, "Ann, I am so glad that at last my brother is to know you,"
she was thinking that it seemed a friend to whom one might indeed be
proud to present one's brother. She never lost the picture of the Ann
whom Wayne advanced to meet. She loved her in that rose pink muslin, the
skirt cascaded in old-fashioned way, an old-fashioned looking surplice
about the shoulders, and on her long slim throat a lovely Florentine
cameo swinging on the thinnest of old silver chains. She might have been
a cameo herself.
And she never forgot the way Ann said her first words to Wayne. They were
two most commonplace words, merely the "Thank you" with which she
responded to his hospitable greeting, but that "Thank you" seemed let out
of a whole under sea of feeling for which it would try to speak.
Before Wayne could carry out his unmistakable intention of saying
more, Katie was airily off into a story about the cook, dragging it
in with a thin hook about the late dinner, and the cook in the
present case suggested a former cook in Washington whom Katie held,
and sought to prove, nature had ordained for a great humorist. The
ever faithful subject of cooks served stanchly until they had reached
the safety of soup.
Katie was in story-telling mood. She seemed to have an inexhaustible fund
of them in reserve which she could deftly strap on as life-preserver at
the first far sign of danger. And she would flash into her stories an "As
you said, Ann," or "As you would put it, Ann," whenever she found
anything to fit the Ann she would create.
Several times, however, the rescuing party had to knock down good form
and trample gentle breeding under foot to reach the spot in time. Wayne
spoke of a friend in Vienna from whom he had heard that day and turned to
Ann with an interrogation about the Viennese. Katie, contemplating the
suppleness of Ann's neck, momentarily asleep at her post, missed the
"Come over and help us" look, and Ann had begun upon a fatal, "I have
never been in--" when Katie, with ringing laugh broke in: "Isn't it odd,
Ann, that you should never have been in Vienna, when you lived all those
years right there in Florence? I _do_ think it the oddest thing!"
Ann agreed that it _was_ odd--Wayne concurring.
But driven from Vienna, he sought Florence. "And Italy? I presume I go on
record as the worst sort of bounder in asking if you really care greatly
about living there?"
Katie thought it time Ann try a stroke for herself. One would never
develop strength on a life-preserver.
Seeing that she had it to make, she paused before it an instant. Fear
seemed to be feeling, and a possible sense of the absurdity of her
situation made for a slightly tremulous dignity as she said: "I do love
it. Love it so much it is hard to tell just how much--or why." And then
it was as if she shrank back, having uncovered too much. She looked as
though she might be dreaming of the Court of the Uffizi, or Santa Maria
Novella, but Katie surmised that that dreamy look was not failing to find
out what Wayne was going to do with his lettuce. But one who suggested
dreams of Tuscany when taking observations on the use of the salad
fork--was there not hope unbounded for such a one?
Wayne was silent for the moment, as though getting the fact that the love
of Italy, or perhaps its associations, was to this girl not a thing to
be compressed within the thin vein of dinner talk. "Well," he laughed
understanding, "to be sure I don't know it from the inside. I never was
of it; I merely looked at it. And I thought the plumbing was abominable."
"Wayne," scoffed Kate, "plumbing indeed! Have you no soul?"
"Yes, I have; and bad plumbing is bad for it."
Ann laughed quite blithely at that, and as though finding confidence in
the sound of her own laugh, she boldly volunteered a stroke. "I don't
know much about plumbing," Katie heard Ann saying. "I suppose perhaps it
is bad. But do you care much about plumbing when looking at"--her pause
before it might have been one of reverence--"The Madonna of the Chair?"
Katie treated herself to a particularly tender bit of lettuce and
secretly hugged herself, Ann, and "Days in Florence." The Madonna of the
Chair furnished the frontispiece for that valuable work.
Ann had receded, flushed, her lip trembling a little; Wayne was looking
at her thoughtfully--and a little as one might look at the Madonna of the
Chair. Katie heard the trump of duty call her to another story.
Feeling that first efforts, even on life-preservers, should not be long
ones, it was soon after they returned to the library that Katie threw
out: "Well, Ann, if that letter must be written--"
Ann rose. "Yes, and it must."
"But morning is the time for letter writing," urged Wayne.
"Morning in this instance is the time for shopping," said Kate.
She had left Ann at the foot of the stairs, murmuring something about
having to see Nora. It was a half hour later that she looked in upon her.
What she saw was too much for Katie. Had the whole of creation been
wrecked by her laughing, Katie must needs have laughed just then.
For Ann's two hands gripped "Days in Florence" with fierce resolution.
Ann's head was bent over the book in a sort of stern frenzy. Ann, not
even having waited to disrobe, was attacking Florence as the good old
city had never been attacked before.
She seemed to get the significance of Katie's laugh, however, for it was
as to a confederate she whispered: "I'll get caught!"
"Trust me," said Kate, and laughed from a new angle.
Ann could laugh, too, and when Katie sat down to "talk it over" they
were that most intimate of all things in the world, two girls with a
secret, two girls set apart from all the world by that secret they held
from all the world, hugging between them a beautiful, brilliant secret
and laughing at the rest of the world because it couldn't get in. That
secret, shared and recognized and laughed over and loved, did what no
amount of sympathy or gratitude could have done. It was as if the whole
situation heaved a sigh of relief and settled itself in more
"Why no," sparkled Kate, in response to Ann's protestation, "the only
thing you have to do is not to try. Lovers of Italy must take their Italy
with a superior calm. And when you don't know what to say--just seem too
full for utterance. That being too full for utterance throws such a safe
and lovely cover over the lack of utterance. And if you fear you're mixed
up just look as though you were going to cry. Wayne will be so terrified
at that prospect that he'll turn the conversation to air-ships, and
you'll always be safe with Wayne in an air-ship because he'll do all the
Ann grew thoughtful. She seemed to have turned back to something. Katie
would have given much to know what it was Ann's deep brown eyes were
surveying so somberly.
"The strange part of it is," she said, "I used to dream of some
"Of course you did. That's why you belong there. A great deal more than
some of us who've tramped miles through galleries." Then swiftly Katie
changed her position, her expression and the conversation. "Elizabeth
Barrett Browning is your favorite poet, isn't she, Ann?"
"Why--why no," stammered Ann. "I'm afraid I haven't any favorite.
"So much the better. Then you can take Elizabeth without being untrue to
any one else. She loved Florence. You know she's buried there. I think
you used to make pilgrimages to her tomb."
Again Ann turned back, and at what she saw smiled a little, half
bitterly, half wistfully. "I'd like to have made pilgrimages somewhere."
"To be sure you would. That's why you did. The things we would like to
have done, and would have done if we could, are lots more part of us than
just the things we did do because we had to do them. Just consider that
all those things you'd like to have done are things you did. It will make
you feel at home with yourself. And to-morrow we'll go over the river and
order Elizabeth Barrett Browning and a tailored suit."
But with that the girl who would like to have done things receded,
leaving baldly exposed the girl who had done the things she had had to
do. "No," said Ann stubbornly and sullenly.
"But blue gingham morning dress and rose-colored evening dress are
scarcely sufficient unto one's needs," murmured Kate.
Ann turned away her head. "I can't take things--not things like that."
"But why not?" pursued Kate. "Why can't you take as well as I can take?"
She turned upon her hotly, as if resentful of being toyed with. "How
silly! It is yours."
Katie had said it at random, but once expressed it interested her.
"Why I don't know whether it is or not," she said, suddenly more
interested in the idea itself than in its effect upon Ann. "Why is it?
I didn't earn it."
"There's no use talking _that_ way. It's yours because you've got it."
That not seeming to bring ethical satisfaction she added: "It's yours
because your family earned it."
Katie was unfastening the muslin gown. "But as a matter of
fact,"--getting more and more interested--"they didn't. They didn't earn
it. They just got it. What they earned they had to use to live on. This
that is left over is just something my grandfather fell upon through
luck. Then why should it be mine now--any more than yours?"
Ann deemed her intelligence insulted. "That's ridiculous."
"Well now I don't know whether it is or not." She was silent for a
moment, considering it. "But anyhow," she came back to the issue, "we
have our hands on this money, so we'll get the suit. You're in the army
now, Ann. You're enlisted under me, and I'll have no insubordination. You
know--into the jaws of death!--Even so into the jaws of Elizabeth Barrett
Browning--and a tailor-made suit!"
So Katie laughed herself out of the room.
And softly she whistled herself back into the library. The whistling did
not seem to break through the smoke which surrounded Wayne. After several
moments of ostentatious indifference, she threw out at him, with a
conspicuous yawn: "Well, Wayne, what did you think of the terrifying
Wayne's reply was long in coming, simple, quiet, and queer: "She's a
Startled, peculiarly gratified, impishly delighted, she yet replied
lightly: "A lady, is she? Um. Once at school one of the girls said she
had a 'trade-last' for me, and after I had searched the closets of memory
and dragged out that some one had said she had pretty eyes, dressed it up
until this some one had called her ravishingly beautiful--after all that
conscientious dishonesty what does she tell me but that some one had said
I was so 'clean-looking.' One rather takes 'clean-looking' for granted!
Even so with our friends being ladies. Quaint old word for you to
"Yes," he laughed, "quite quaint. But she seems to me just that
old-fashioned thing our forefathers called a lady. Now we have good
fellows, and thoroughbreds, and belongers. Not many of this girl's type."
Katie wanted to chuckle. But suddenly the unborn chuckle dissolved into a
sea of awe.
Thoughts and smoke seemed circling around Wayne together; and perhaps the
blue rim of it all was dreams. His face was not what one would expect the
face of a man engaged in making warfare more deadly to be as he
murmured, not to Katie but to the thin outer rim, softly, as to rims
barely material: "And more than that--a woman."
He puzzled her. "Well, Wayne," she laughed, "aren't you getting a
little--cryptic? I certainly told you--by implication--that she was both
a lady and a woman. Then why this air of discovery?"
But it did not get Katie into the smoke. He made no effort to get her in,
but after a moment came back to her with a kindly: "I am glad you have
such a friend, Katie. It will do you good."
That inward chuckle showed no disposition to dissolve into anything; it
fought hard to be just a live, healthy chuckle.
Moved by an impulse half serious, half mischievous she asked: "You would
say then, Wayne, that Ann seems to you more of a lady than Zelda Fraser?"
Wayne's real answer lay in his look of disgust. He did condescend to put
into words: "Oh, don't be absurd, Katie."
"But Zelda has a splendid ancestry," she pressed.
"And suggests a chorus girl."
That stilled her. It left her things to think about.
At last she asked: "And Wayne, which would you say I was?"
He came back from a considerable distance. "Which of what?"
"Lady or chorus girl?"
He looked at her and smiled. Katie was all aglow with the daring of her
adventure. "I should say, Katie dear, that you were a half-breed."
"What a sounding thing to be! But Major Darrett in his last letter tells
me I am his idea of a thoroughbred. How can I be a half-breed if I'm a
"True, it makes you a biological freak. But you should be too original to
complain of that."
"But I do complain. It sounds like something with three legs. Not but
what I'd rather be a biological freak than a grind--or a prude."
"Be at peace," drily advised Wayne.
"Ann was quiet to-night," mused Katie, feeling an irresistible desire
to get back to her post of duty, not because there was any need for her
being there, but merely because she liked the post. "She felt a little
strange, I think. She has been much alone and with people of a
"And I presume it never occurred to you, Katie, that neither Ann nor I
was fairly surfeited with opportunities for conversational initiative?
Just drop me a hint sometime when you are not going to be at home, will
you? I should like a chance to get acquainted with your friend."
Katie was straightway the hen with feathers ruffled over her brood. "You
must be careful, Wayne," she clucked at him. "When you are alone with Ann
please try to avoid all unpleasant subjects, or anything you see she
would rather not talk about."
"Thanks awfully for the hint," returned Wayne quietly. "I had been
meaning to speak first of her father's funeral. I thought I would follow
that with a searching inquiry into her mother's last illness. But of
course if you think this not wise I am glad to be guided by your
"Wayne!" she reproached laughingly. "Now you know well enough! I simply
meant if you saw Ann wished to avoid a subject, not to pursue it."
"Thanks again, dear Sister Kate, for these easy lessons in
behavior. Rule 1--"
But she waved it laughingly aside, rising to leave him. "Just the same,"
she maintained, from the doorway, "experience may make the familiar
things--and dear things--the very things of which one wishes least to
speak. Talk to Ann about the army, Wayne; talk about--"
But as he was holding out note-book and pencil she beat grimacing
That night Miss Jones dreamed. The world had been all shaken up and
everything was confused and no one could put it to rights. All those
dames whose ancestors had sailed unknown waters were in the front row of
the chorus, and all the chorus girls were dancing a stately minuet at Old
Point Comfort. Elizabeth Barrett Browning was trying to commit suicide by
becoming a biological freak, and the Madonna of the Chair was wearing a
smartly tailored brown rajah suit.
Peacefully and pleasantly one day slipped after another. Some thirty of
them had joined their unnumbered fellows and to-morrow bade fair to pass
serenely as yesterday. "This, dear Queen," Katie confided to the dog
stretched at her feet, "is what in vulgar parlance is known as 'nothing
doing,' and in poetic language is termed the 'simple life.'"
Thirty days of "nothing doing"--and yet there had been more "doing" in
those days than in all the thousands of their predecessors gaily crowded
to the brim. Those crowded days seemed days of a long sleep; these quiet
ones, days of waking.
Ann was out on the links that afternoon with Captain Prescott. From
her place on the porch Katie had a glimpse of them at that moment.
Ann's white dress with its big knot of red ribbon was a vivid and a
pleasing spot. The olive of the Captain's uniform seemed part of the
background of turf and trees--all of it for Ann, so live and so pretty
in white and red.
He was seeking to correct her stroke. Both were much in earnest about it.
It would seem that the whole of Ann's life hung upon that thing of better
form in her golf. Finally she made a fair drive and turned to him
jubilantly. He was commending enthusiastically and Ann quite pranced
under his enthusiasm. Seeing Katie, she waved her hand and pointed off to
her ball that Katie, too, might mark the triumph. Then they came along,
laughing and chatting. When the ball was reached they were in about the
spot where Katie had first seen Ann, thirty days before.
She knew how Ann felt. There was joy in the good stroke. In this other
game she had been playing in the last thirty days--this more difficult
and more alluring game--she had come to know anew the exhilaration of
bunker cleared, the satisfaction of the long drive and the sure putt.
And Katie had played a good game. It was not strange she should have
convinced others, for there were times when her game was so good as to
convince even herself. Though it had ever been so with Kate. The things
in the world of "Let's play like" had always been persuasive things.
Curious she was to know how often or how completely Ann was able to
forget they were playing a game.
She had come to think of Ann, not as a hard-and-fast, all-finished
product, but as something fluid, certainly plastic. It was as if anything
could be poured into Ann, making her. A dream could be woven round her,
and Ann could grow into that dream. That was a new fancy to Kate; she had
always thought of people more as made than as constantly in the making.
It opened up long paths of wondering. To all sides those paths were
opening in those days--it was that that made them such eventful days.
Down this path strayed the fancy how much people were made by the things
which surrounded them--the things expected of them. That path led to the
vista that amazing responsibility might lie with the things
surrounding--the things expected. It even made her wonder in what measure
she would have been Katie Jones, differently surrounded, differently
called upon. Her little trip down that path jostled both her approval of
herself and her disapproval of others.
It was only once or twice that the real girl had stirred in the dream.
For the most part she had remained in the shadow of Katie's fancyings.
She was as an actor on the stage, inarticulate save as regards her part.
Katie had grown so absorbed in that part that there were times of
forgetting there was a real girl behind it. Often she believed in her
friend Ann Forrest, the dear girl she had known in Florence, the poor
child who had gone through so many hard things and was so different from
the Zelda Frasers of the world. She rejoiced with Wayne and Captain
Prescott in seeing dear Ann grow a little more plump, a little rosier, a
little more smiling. She could understand perfectly, as she had made them
understand, why Ann did not talk more of Italy and the things of her own
life. Life had crowded in too hard upon her, that setting of the other
days made other days live again too acutely. Ann was taking a vacation
from her life, she had laughingly put it to Wayne. That was why she
played so much with Worth and the dogs and talked so little of grown-up
things. Though one could never completely take a vacation from one's
life; that was why Ann looked that way when she was sometimes sitting
very still and did not know that any one was looking at her.
Persuasion was the easier as fabrication was but a fanciful dress for
truth. Imagination did not have it all to do; it only followed where Ann
called--blazing its own trail.
Yet there were times when the country of make-believe was swept down by a
whirlwind, a whirlwind of realization which crashed through Katie's
consciousness and knocked over the fancyings. Those whirlwinds would come
all unannounced; when Ann seemed most Ann, playing with Worth, perhaps
wearing one of the prettiest dresses and smilingly listening to something
Wayne was telling her had happened over at the shops. And on the heels of
the whirlwind knocking down the country of make-believe would come the
girl from a vast unknown rushing wildly from--what? What had become of
that girl? Would she hear from _her_ again? It was almost as if the girl
made by reality had indeed gone down under the waters that day, and the
things the years had made her had abdicated in favor of the things Katie
would make her. And yet did the things the years had made one ever really
abdicate? Was it because the girl of the years was too worn for
assertiveness that the girl of fancy could seem the all? Was it only that
she slumbered--and sometimes stirred a little in her sleep?--And when
Even to each other they did not speak of that other girl, as if fearing a
word might wake her. Sometimes they heard her stir; as one day soon
after Ann's coming Katie had said: "Ann, just what is it is the matter
with your vocal chords?"
"Why I didn't know anything was," stammered Ann.
"But you seem unable to pronounce my name."
"It is spelled K-a-t-i-e," Kate went on, "and is pronounced K--T. Try it,
Ann. See if you can say it."
Ann looked at her. The look itself crossed the border country. "Katie--"
she choked--and the country of make-believe fell palely away.
But they did not speak of the things they had stirred.
That thing of not saying it had been established the day Ann's bank
account was opened. Katie had been "over the river," as she called going
over to the city. Upon returning she found Ann up in her room. She stood
there unpinning her hat, telling of an automobile accident on the
bridge--Katie seldom came in without some stirring tale. As she was
leaving she rummaged in her bag. "And oh yes, Ann," she said, carelessly,
"here's your bank book. I presumed to draw twenty dollars for you,
thinking you might need it before you could get over. Oh dear--that
telephone! And I know it's Wayne for me."
But she did not escape. Ann was waiting for her when she came back
She held out the book, shaking her head. Her face told that she had been
"Not money," she said unsteadily. "All the rest of it is bad enough--but
not money. I'd have no--self-respect."
"Self-respect!" jeered Kate. "I'd have no self-respect if I didn't take
money. Nobody can be self-respecting when broke. None of the rest of us
seem to be inquiring into our sources of revenue, so why should you?"
As had happened that other time, in relation to the suit, the thing shot
out at Ann turned back to her. It had more than once occurred that the
thing thrown out sparingly persisted as thing to be considered genuinely.
Her browbeating of Ann--for it was a sort of tender, protective
browbeating--led her to reach out blindly for weapons, and once in her
hand many of those weapons proved ideas.
"We take everything we can get," she followed it up, forcing herself from
interest in the weapon to the use of it, "from everybody we can get it
from. We take this house from the government--and heaven only knows how
many sons of toil the government takes it from. I take this money we're
so stupidly quibbling about now from a company the papers say takes it
from everybody in reach. Take or you will be taken from is the basis of
modern finance. Please don't be fanatical, Ann."
"I can't take it," repeated Ann.
Katie looked worried. Then she took new ground. "Well, Ann, if you won't
take the sane financial outlook, at least be a good sport. We're in this
game; the money has got to be part of making it go. We'll never get
anywhere at all if we're going to balk and fuss at every turn. There now,
honey,"--as if to Worth--"put your book away. Don't lose it; it makes
them cross to have you lose them. And another principle of modern finance
with which I am heartily in sympathy is that money should be kept in
circulation. It encourages embezzlement to leave it in banks too long."
Then, seeing what was gathering, she said quietly but authoritatively:
"Leave it unsaid, Ann. Can't we always just leave it unsaid? Nothing
makes me so uncomfortable as to feel I'm constantly in danger of having
something nice said to me."
Perhaps Katie knew that countries of make-believe are sensitive things,
that it does not do to admit you know them for that.
There had been that one time when the hand of reality reached savagely
into the dream, as if the things the girl had run away from had come to
claim her. It seemed through that long night that they had claimed her,
that Ann's "vacation" was over.
Captain Prescott had been dining with them that night and after dinner
they were sitting out on the porch. He was humming a snatch of something.
Katie heard a chair scrape and saw that Ann had moved farther into the
shadow. She was all in shadow save her hand; that Katie could see was
gripping the arm of her chair.
He turned to Ann. "Did you see 'Daisey-Maisey'?"
"Ann wasn't here then," said Kate.
"Did you see it, Katie?"
"It was a jolly, joyous sort of thing," he laughed. "Sort of thing to
make you feel nothing matters. That was the name of that thing I was
humming. No, not 'Nothing Matters,' but 'Don't You Care.' And there were
the 'Don't You Care' girls--pink dresses and big black hats. They seemed
to mean what they sang. They didn't care, certainly."
It was Wayne who spoke. "Think not?"
Ann came a little way out of the shadow. She had leaned toward Wayne.
"Well you'd never know it if they did," laughed Prescott. He turned to
Wayne. "What's your theory?"
"Oh I have no theory. Just a wondering. Can't see how girls who have
their living to earn could sing 'Don't You Care' with complete abandon."
Ann leaned forward, looking at him tensely. Then, as if afraid, she
sank back into shadow. Katie could still see her hand gripping the arm
of her chair.
"But they're not the caring sort," Prescott was holding.
"Think not?" said Wayne again, in Wayne's queer way.
There was a silence, and then Ann had murmured something and
Katie followed her; for hours she sat by her bed, holding her hand,
trying to soothe her. It was almost morning before that other girl, that
girl they were trying to get away from, would let Ann go to sleep.
Sitting beside the tortured girl that night, hearing the heart-breaking
little moans which as sleep finally drew near replaced the sobs, Katie
Jones wondered whether many of the things people so serenely took for
granted were as absurd--and perhaps as tragically absurd--as Captain
Prescott's complacent conclusion that the "Don't You Care" girls were
girls who didn't care.
How she would love--turning it all over in her mind that afternoon--to
talk some of those things over with "the man who mends the boats"!
She had only known him for about twenty days--"The man who mends the
boats"--but she had fallen into the way of referring all interesting
questions to him. That was perhaps the more remarkable as her eyes had
never rested upon him.
One morning Worth had looked up from some comparative measurements of the
tails of Pourquoi and N'est-ce-pas to demand: "Why, Aunt Kate, what do
"There are times," replied Aunt Kate, looking over at the girl swaying
in the hammock, humming gently to herself, "when I don't know just what
"Well sir, what do you think? The man that mends the boats knows more
"Worthie," she admonished, "it's bad business for an army man to
"But yes, he does. 'Cause I asked Watts why Pourquoi had more yellow than
white, and why N'est-ce-pas was more white 'an yellow, and he said I sure
had him there. He'd be blowed if he knew, and he guessed nobody did,
'less maybe the Almighty had some ideas about it; but yesterday I asked
the man that mends the boats, and he explained it--oh a whole lot of long
words, Aunt Kate. More long words 'an I ever heard before."
"And the explanation? I trust it was satisfactory?"
"I guess it was," replied Worth uncertainly. "'Twas an awful lot of
"My experience, too," laughed Aunt Kate.
"With the man that mends the boats?"
"No, with other sages. You see when they're afraid to stay down here on
the ground with us any longer, afraid they'll be hit with a question that
will knock them over, they get into little air-ships they have and hurl
the long words down at our heads until we're too stunned to ask any more
questions, and in such wise is learning disseminated."
"I'll ask the man that mends the boats if he's got any air-ships. He's
got most everything up there."
"Oh, up there,"--with vague nod toward the head of the Island.
"He says he'd like to get acquainted with you, Aunt Kate. He says he
really believes you might be worth knowing."
Thereupon Aunt Kate's book fell to the floor with a thud of amazement
that reverberated indignation. "Well upon my word!" gasped she. Then,
recovering her book--and more--"Why what a kindly gentleman he must be,"
"Oh yes, he's kind. He's awful kind, I guess. He'll talk to you any time
you want him to, Aunt Kate. He'll tell you just anything you want to
know. He said you must be a--I forgot the word."
"Oh no, you haven't," wheedled Aunt Kate. "Try to think of it, dearie."
"Can't think of it now. Shall I ask him again?"
"Certainly not! How preposterous! As if it made the slightest difference
in the world!"
But it made difference enough for Aunt Kate to ask a moment later: "And
how did it happen, Worthie, that this kindly philosopher should have
deemed me worth knowing?"
"Oh, I don't know. 'Cause he liked the puppies' names, I guess. I told
him how their mother was just Queen, but how they was Pourquoi and
N'est-ce-pas--a 'quirer and 'versalist and so then he said: 'And which is
"Which is Aunt _Kate? What_ did he mean?"
"'Is she content to be just Queen,' he said, 'or is she'--there was a lot
of long words, you wouldn't understand them, Aunt Kate--I didn't
either--'does she show a puppyish tendon'--tendon something--'to butt
into the universe?'"
Suddenly Aunt Kate's face grew pink and she sat straight. "Worth, was
this one of the men?"
"Oh no, Aunt Kate. He's not one of the men. He's just a man. He's the man
that mends the boats."
"'The man that mends the boats!' He sounds like a creature in flowing
robes out of a mythology book, or the being expressing the high and noble
sentiments calling everybody down in a new-thoughtish play."
From time to time Worth would bring word of him. What boats does he mend,
Aunt Kate wanted to know, and what business has he landing them on our
Island? To which came the answer that he mended boats sick unto death
with speed mania and other social disease, and that he didn't land them
on the Island, but on an island off the tip of the Island, a tiny island
which the Lord had thoughtlessly left lying disrespectfully close to the
Isle of Dignity. Katie was too true a romancer to inquire closely about
the man who mended the boats, for she liked to think of him as an unreal
being who only touched the earth off the tip of the Island, and only
touched humanity through Worth. That wove something alluringly
mysterious--and mysteriously alluring--about the man who made sick boats
well, whereas had she given rein to the possibility of his belonging to
the motorboat factory across the river, and scientifically testing
gasoline engines it would be neither proper nor interesting that her
young nephew should run back and forth with pearls of wit and wisdom. It
developed that Worth visited this tip of the Island with the ever
faithful Watts, and that one day the boat mender and Watts had--oh just
the awfulest fight with words Worth had ever heard. It was about the
Government, which the man who mended the boats said was running on one
cylinder, drawing from patriotic Watts the profane defense that it had
all the power it needed for blowing up just such fools as that! He
further held that soldiers were first-class dishwashers and should be
brave enough to demand first-class dishwashing pay. Katie had chuckled
over that. But she had puzzled rather than chuckled over the statement
that the first war the saddles manufactured on that Island would see
would be the war over the manufacturing of them. Now what in the world
had he meant by that? She had asked Wayne, but Wayne had seemed so
seriously interested in the remark, and asked such direct questions as to
who made it, that she had tried to cover her tracks, thinking perhaps the
man who mended the boats could be thrown into the guard-house for saying
such dark things about army saddles.
On the way home from that talk Watts had branded the man who mended the
boats as one of them low-down anarchists that ought to be shot at
sunrise. Things was as they _was_, held Watts, and how could anybody but
a fool expect them to be any way but the way they _was_? It showed what
_he_ was--and after that Worth had had no more fireworks of thought for a
week, Watts standing guard over the world as it was.
But he slipped into an odd place in Katie's life of wonderings and
fancyings, and that life of musing and questioning was so big and so real
a life in those days. He was something to shoot things out at, to hang
things to. She held imaginary conversations with him, demolished him in
imaginary arguments only to stand him up and demolish him again.
Sometimes she quite winked with him at the world as it was, and at other
times she withdrew to lofty heights and said cutting things. In more
friendly mood she asked him questions, sometimes questions he could not
answer, and she could not answer them either, and then their thoughts
would hover around together, brooding over a world of unanswerable
things. All her life she had held those imaginary conversations, but
heretofore it had been with her horse, her dog, the trees, a white cloud
against the blue, something somewhere. None of the hundreds of nice
people she knew had ever moved her to imaginary conversations. And so now
it was stimulating--energizing--not to have to diffuse her thought into
the unknown, but to direct it at, and through, the man who mended the
boats and said strange things to Worth up at the tip of the Island.
And he came at a time when she had great need of him. Never before
had there been so many things to start one on imaginary conversations,
conversations which ended usually in a limitless wondering. Since Ann had
come the simplest thought had a way of opening a door into a vast
Too many doors were opening that afternoon. She was making no headway
with the letters she had told herself she would dispose of while Ann and
Captain Prescott were out on the links.
The letter from Harry Prescott's mother was the most imperative. She was
returning from California and sent some inquiries as to the habitability
of her son's house.
Katie was thinking, as she re-read it, that it was a letter with a
background. It expressed one whom dead days loved well. The writer of
the letter seemed to be holding in life all those gentlewomen who had
In a short time Mrs. Prescott would be at the Arsenal. That meant a more
difficult game. Did it also mean an impossible one?
Yet Katie would prefer showing her Ann to Mrs. Prescott than to Zelda
Fraser. Zelda, the fashionable young woman, would pounce upon the absence
of certain little tricks and get no glimmer of what Katie vaguely called
the essence. Might not Mrs. Prescott find the reality in the
possibilities? "It comes to this," Katie suddenly saw, "I'm not shamming,
I'm revealing. I'm not vulgarly imitating; I'm restoring. The connoisseur
should be the first to appreciate that."
It turned her off into one of those long paths of wondering, paths which
sometimes seemed to circle the whole of the globe. It was on those paths
she frequently found the man who mended the boats waiting for her.
Sometimes he was irritating, turning off into little by-paths, by-paths
leading off to the dim source of things. Katie could not follow him
there; she did not know her way; and often, as to-day, he turned off
there just when she was most eager to ask him something. She would ask
him what he thought about backgrounds. How much there was in that thing
of having the background all prepared for one, in simply fitting into the
place one was expected to fit into. How many people would create for
themselves the background it was assumed they belonged in just because
they had been put in it? Suddenly she laughed. She had a most absurd
vision of Jove--Katie believed it would be Jove--standing over humanity
with some kind of heroic feather duster and mightily calling
"Shoo!--Shoo!--Move on!--Every fellow find his place for himself!"
Such a scampering as there would be! And how many would be let stay in
the places where they had been put? Who would get the nice corners it had
been taken for granted certain people should have just because they had
been fixed up for them in advance? How about the case of Miss Katherine
Wayneworth Jones? Would she be ranked out of quarters?
Certain it was that a very choice corner had been fitted up for said
Katherine Wayneworth Jones. People said that she belonged in her corner;
that no one else could fit it, that she could not as well fit anywhere
else. But she was not at all sure that under the feather duster act that
would give her the right of possession. People were so stupid. Just
because they saw a person sitting in a place they held that was the place
for that person to be sitting. Katie almost wished that mighty "Shoo!"
would indeed reverberate 'round the world. It would be such fun to see
them scamper and squirm. And would there not be the keenest of
satisfaction in finding out what sort of place one would fit up for one's
self if none had been fitted up for one in advance?
Few people were called upon to prove themselves. Most people judged
people as they judged pictures at an exhibition. They went around with a
catalogue and when they saw a good name they held that they saw a good
picture. And when they did not know the name, even though the picture
pleased them, they waited around until they heard someone else saying
good things, then they stood before it murmuring, "How lovely."
She had put Ann in the catalogue; she had seen to it that she was
properly hung, and she herself had stood before her proclaiming something
rare and fine. That meant that Ann was taken for granted. And being taken
for granted meant nine-tenths the battle.
It would be fun to fool the catalogue folks. And she need have no
compunctions about lowering the standard of art because the picture she
had found out in the back room and surreptitiously hung in the night
belonged in the gallery a great deal more than some of the pictures which
had been solemnly carried in the front way. It was the catalogue folks,
rather than the lovers of art, were being imposed upon.
And Mrs. Prescott, though to be sure a maker of catalogues, was also a
lover of art. There lay Katie's hope for her, and apology to her.
Though she was apprehensive, a stronger light was to be turned on--that
was indisputable. "You and I know, dear Queen," Katie confided to the
member of her sex lying at her feet, "that men are not at all difficult.
You can get them to swallow most anything--if the girl in the case is
beautiful enough. And feminine enough! Masculine dotes on discovering
feminine--but have you ever noticed what the rest of the feminine dote on
doing to that discovery? Women can even look at wondrous soft brown eyes
and lovely tender mouths through those 'Who was your father?' 'specs'
they keep so well dusted. The manner of holding a teacup is more
important than the heart's deep dreams. When it comes to passing
inspection, the soul's not in it with the fork. We know 'em--don't we,
Queen wagged concurrence, and Katie pulled herself sternly back to
Mrs. Prescott spoke of the chance of her son's being ordered away. "I
hope not," she wrote, "for I want the quiet summer for him. And for
myself, too. The great trees and the river, and you there, dear Katie, it
seems the thing I most desire. But we of the army learn often to
relinquish the things we most desire. We, the homeless, for in the
abiding sense we are homeless, make homes possible. Think of it with
pride sometimes, Katie. Our girls think of it all too little now. I
sometimes wonder how they can forego that just pride in their traditions.
During this spring in the West my thoughts have many times turned to
those other days, days when men like your father and my husband performed
the frontier service which made the West of to-day possible. Recently at
a dinner I heard a young woman, one of the 'advanced' type, and I am
sorry to say of army people, speak laughingly to one of our men of the
uselessness of the army. She was worthy nothing but scorn, or I might
have spoken of some of the things your mother and I endured in those days
of frontier posts. And now we have a California--serene--fruitful--and
can speak of the uselessness of the army! Does the absurdity of it never
Katie pondered that; wondered if Mrs. Prescott's attitude and spirit were
not passing with the frontier. Few of the army girls she knew thought of
themselves as homeless, or gave much consideration to that thing of
making other homes possible, save, to be sure, the homes they were
hoping--and plotting--to make for themselves. And she could not see that
the "young woman" was answered. The young woman had not been talking
about traditions. Probably the young woman would say that yesterday
having made to-day possible it was quite time to be quit of yesterday.
"Though to be sure," Katie now answered her, "while we may not seem to be
doing anything, we're keeping something from being done, and that perhaps
is the greatest service of all. Were it not for us and our dear navy we
should be sailed on from East and West, marched on from North and South.
At least that's what we're told by our superiors, and are you the kind of
young woman to question what you're told by your superiors? Because if
you are!--I'd like to meet you."
Her letter continued: "Harry writes glowingly of your charming friend.
Strange that I am not able to recall her, though to be sure I knew little
of you in those years abroad. Was she a school friend? I presume so.
Harry speaks of her as 'the dear sort of girl,' not leaving a clear image
in my mind. But soon my vision will be cleared."
"Oh, will it?" mumbled Kate. "I don't know whether it will or not. 'The
dear sort of girl!' And I presume the young goose thought he had given a
She turned to Major Darrett's note: a charming note it was to turn to. He
had the gift of making himself very real--and correspondingly
attractive--in those notes.
A few days before she had been telling Ann about Major Darrett. "He's a
bachelor," she had said, "and a joy." Ann had looked vague, and Katie
laughed now in seeing that her characterization was broad as "the dear
sort of girl."
It was probable Major Darrett would relieve one of the officers at the
Arsenal. He touched it lightly. "Should fate--that part of it dwelling in
Washington--waft me to your Island, Katie Jones, I foresee a summer to
compensate me for all the hard, cruel, lonely years."
Kate smiled knowingly; not that she actually knew much to be
She wondered why she did not disapprove of Major Darrett. Certain she was
that some of the things which had kept his years from being hard, cruel,
and lonely were in the category for disapproval. But he managed them so
well; one could not but admire his deftness, and admiration was weakening
to disapproval. One disapproved of things which offended one, and in this
instance the results of the things one knew one should disapprove were so
far from offensive that one let it go at smiling knowingly, mildly
disapproving of one's self for not disapproving.
Ann had not responded enthusiastically to Katie's drawing of Major
Darrett. She had not seemed to grasp the idea that much was forgiven the
very charming; that ordinary standards were not rigidly applied to the
extraordinarily fascinating. When Katie was laughingly telling of one of
the Major's most interesting flirtations Ann's eyes had seemed to crouch
back in that queer way they had. Katie had had an odd sense of Ann's
disapproving of her--disapproving of her for her not disapproving of him.
More than once Ann had given her that sense of being disapproved of.
As with all things in the universe just then, he was a new angle back to
Ann. If he were to come there--? For Major Darrett would not at all
disapprove of those eyes of Ann's. And yet his own eyes would see more
than Wayne and Harry Prescott had seen. Major Darrett had been little on
the frontier, but much in the drawing-room; he had never led up San Juan
hill, but he had led many a cotillion. He had had that form of military
training which makes society favorites. As to Ann, he would have the
feminine "specs" and the masculine delight at one and the same time. What
of that union?
Katie's eyes began to dance. She hoped he would come. He would be a foe
worthy her steel. She would have to fix up all her fortifications--look
well to her ammunition. Whatever might be held against Major Darrett it
could not be said he was not worthy one's cleverest fabrications. But the
triumph of holding one's own with a veteran!
Then of a sudden she wondered what the man who mended the boats would
think of the Major.
Before she had finished her writing Wayne and Worth came up on the porch.
The little boy had been over at the shops with his father.
"Father," he was saying, imagination under the stimulus of things he had
been seeing, "I suppose our gun will kill 'bout forty thousand million
folks--won't it, father?"
"Why no, son, I hope it's not going to be such a beastly gun as that,"
laughed Captain Jones.
"Yes, but, father, isn't a good gun a gun that kills folks? What's the
use making a gun at all if it isn't going to kill folks?"
His father looked at him strangely. "Sonny," he said, "you're hitting
home rather hard."
"Your reasoning is poor, Worth," said Katie; "fact is we make guns to
keep folks from getting killed. If we didn't have the guns everybody
would get killed. Now don't say 'why.'"
"'Cause you don't know why," calmly remarked Worth, adding: "I'll ask
Watts, and if he don't know I'll ask the man that mends the boats."
"Do," said Katie.
Having, to his own satisfaction, exterminated some forty thousand million
members of the human family, Worth opened attack on the puppies. He was
an Indian and they were poor white settlers and he was going to kill
them. No poor white settlers had ever received an Indian so joyously.
But he seemed to have left those forty thousand million souls on his
father's hands. Wayne was looking very serious. He did not respond
to--did not appear to have heard--Katie's remark about Worth needing some
Katie wondered what he was thinking about; she supposed some new kind of
barrel steel. She took it for granted that nothing short of steel could
produce _that_ look.
She was proud of the things that look had done, proud of the distinction
her brother had already won in the army, proud, in advance, of the things
she was confident he would do.
Captain Jones was at the Arsenal on special detail. An invention of his
pertaining to the rifle was being manufactured for tests. There was keen
interest in it and its final adoption seemed assured. It was of
sufficient importance to make his name one of those conspicuous in army
affairs. He had already several lesser things--devices pertaining to
equipment--to his credit and was looked upon as one of the most promising
of the army's men of invention.
And aside from her pride in him, Katie's affection for her brother was
deep, intensified because of their being alone. Their father had died
when Katie was sixteen, died as a result of wounds received long before
in frontier skirmishes, where he had been one of those many brave men to
serve fearlessly and faithfully, men who gave more to their country than
their country perhaps understood. Their mother survived him only two
years. Katie sometimes said that her mother, too, gave her life to her
country. Her health had been undermined by hard living on the
frontier--she who had been so tenderly reared in her southern home--and
in the end she also died from a wound, that wound dealt the heart in the
death of her husband. Katie revered her father's memory and adored her
mother's, and while youth and Katie's indomitable spirit made it hard for
one to think of her as sad, the memory of those two was the deepest,
biggest thing in the girl's life.
"Oh Katie," Wayne suddenly roused himself to say, "your cousin Fred
Wayneworth is in town. I had luncheon with him over the river. He sent
all sorts of messages to you."
"Well--really! Messages! Why this haughty aloofness? Doesn't he mean to
"Oh yes, of course; to-morrow--perhaps to-night. He's fearfully
busy--stopped off on his way East. There's a row on in the forest service
about some of Osborne's timber claims--mining claims, too, I believe--in
Colorado. Those years in the West have developed Fred splendidly. He's
gone from boy to man, and a fine specimen of man, at that."
"He likes his work?"
"Full of it." Wayne was silent for a moment, then added: "I envied him."
It startled Katie. "Envied him? Why--why, Wayne? Surely you're lucky."
He laughed: not the laugh of a man too pleased with his luck. "Oh, am I?
Perhaps I am, but just the same I envy a fellow who can look that way
when talking about his work."
"But you have a work, Wayne."
"No, I have a place."
She grew more and more puzzled. "Why, Wayne, you've been all wrapped up
in this thing you were doing."
He threw his cigarette away impatiently. "Oh yes, just for the sake of
doing it. I get a certain satisfaction in scheming things out. I must
say, however, I'd like to scheme out something I'd get some satisfaction
in having schemed out. A morsel of truth dropped from the mouth of a babe
a minute ago. You may have observed, Katie, that his inquiry was more
direct and reasonable than your reply. An improvement on a rifle. Not
such a satisfying thing to leave to a rifle eliminating future."
"But I didn't know the army admitted it was to be a rifle eliminating
"I'm not saying that the army does," he laughed.
He passed again to that look of almost passionate concentration which
Katie had always supposed meant metallic fouling or some--to her--equally
incomprehensible thing. He emerged from it to exclaim tensely: "Oh I get
so sick of the spirit of the army!"
Instinctively Katie looked around. He saw it, and laughed.
"There you go! We've made a perfect fetich of loyalty. It's a different
sort of loyalty those forestry fellows have--a more live, more
constructive loyalty. The loyalty that comes, not through form, but
through devotion to the work--a common interest in a common cause. Ours
is built on dead things. Custom, and the caste--I know no other
word--just the bull-headed, asinine, undemocratic caste that custom has
"And yet--there must be discipline," Katie murmured: it seemed dreadful
Wayne should be tearing down their house in that rude fashion, house in
which they had dwelt so long, and so comfortably.
"Discipline is one thing. Bullying's another. I've never been satisfied
discipline couldn't be enforced without snobbery. To-day Solesby--one
year out of West Point!--walked through a shop I was in. He passed men
working at their machines--skilled mechanics, many of them men of
intelligence, ideas, character--as though he were passing so much cattle.
I wanted to take him by the neck and throw him out!"
"Oh well," protested Katie, "one year out of the Point! He's yet to learn
men are not cattle."
"Well, Leonard never learned it. His back gets some black looks, let me
"Wayne dear," she laughed, "I'm afraid you're not talking like an officer
and a gentleman."
"I get tired talking like an officer and a gentleman. Sometimes I feel
like talking like a man."
"But couldn't you be court-martialed for doing that?" she laughed.
"I think Leonard thinks I should be."
"Because I talk to the men. There's a young mechanic who has been
detailed to me, and he and I get on famously. All too famously, I take it
Leonard thinks. He came in to-day when this young Ferguson was telling me
some things about his union. He treated Ferguson like a dog and me like a
"Dear me, Wayne," she murmured, "don't get in trouble."
"Trouble!" he scoffed. "Well if I can get in trouble for talking with an
intelligent man I'm working with about the things that man knows--then
let me get in trouble! I'd rather talk to Ferguson than Solesby--we've
more in common. Oh I'll get in no trouble," he added grimly. "Leonard
knows it wouldn't sound well to say it. But he feels it, just the same.
Right there's the difference between our service and this forest service.
That's where they're democrats and we're fossils. Look at the difference
in the spirit of the ranger and the spirit of the soldier! And it's not
because they're whipped into line and bullied and snarled at. It's
because they're treated like men--and made to feel they're a needed part
of a big whole. You should hear Fred tell of the way men meet in this
forest service--superintendent meeting ranger on a common ground. And
why? Because they're doing something constructive. Because the work's the
thing that counts. You'll see what it's done for Fred. The boy has a real
dignity; not the stiff-necked kind he'd acquire around an army post, but
the dignity that comes with the consciousness of being, not in the
service, but of service."
He fell silent there, and Katie watched him. He had never spoken to her
that way before--she had not dreamed he felt like that; heretofore it
had been only through laughing little jibes at the army she had had any
inkling of his feeling toward it. That she had not taken seriously; half
the people she knew in the service jibed at it to others in the service.
This depth of feeling disturbed her, moved her to defense. After a
moment's consideration she emerged triumphant with the Panama canal.
He shook his head. "When you consider the percentage of the army so
engaged, you can't feel as happy about it as you'd like to. We ought all
to be digging Panama canals!"
"Heavens, Wayne--we don't need them."
"Plenty of things we do need."
"Well I don't think you're fair to the army, Wayne. You're not looking
into it--deeply enough. You're doing just as much as Fred, for in
safeguarding the country you permit this constructive work to go on. As
to our formalities--they have run off into absurdity at some points, but
it was a real spirit created those very forms."
"True. And now the spirit's dead and the form's left--and what's so
absurd as a form that rattles dead bones?"
"Father didn't feel as you do, Wayne."
"He had no cause to. He was needed. But we don't need the army on the
frontier now. That's _done_. And we do need the forest service--the
thing to build up. There's no use harking back to traditions. The world
moves on too fast for that. Question is--not what did you do
yesterday--but what good are you to-day--what are you worth to-morrow?
Oh, I'm not condemning the army half so much as I'm sympathizing with
it," he laughed. "It's full of live men who want to be doing
something--instead of being compelled to argue that they're some good.
They get very tired saying they're useful. They'd like to make it
"Well, perhaps we'll have a war with Japan," said Katie consolingly.
"Perhaps we will. Having an army that's spoiling for it, I don't see how
we can very well miss it."
"But if we had no army we certainly should have a war."
His silence led Katie to gasp: "Wayne, are you
He laughed. "Oh, I don't know what I'm becoming. But as to myself--I do
know this. There would be more satisfaction in constructive work than
in work that constructs only that it may be ready to destroy. I would
find it more satisfying to help give my country itself--through natural
and legitimate means--than stand ready to give it some corner of some
"But to keep the other country from getting a corner of it?"
"Doesn't it occur to you, Katie, that as a matter of fact the other
country might like a chance to develop its resources? We're like a crowd
of boys with rocks in their hands and all afraid to throw down the
rocks. If one did, the others might be immensely relieved. It seems
rather absurd, standing there with rocks nobody wants to
throw--especially when there are so many other things to be doing--and
everybody saying, 'I've got to keep mine because he's got his.' Would you
call that a very intelligent gang of kids? Ferguson says it's the
workingmen of the world will bring about disarmament. That they're coming
to feel their common cause as workers too keenly to be forced into war
with each other."
"That's what the man that mends the boats says," piped up Worth. "He says
that when they're all socialists there won't be any wars--'cause
nobody'll go. But Watts says that day'll never come, thank God."
"Are you thanking God for yourself or for Watts, sonny?" laughed his
father. "And who, pray, is the man that mends the boats?"
"The man that mends the boats, father, is a man that's 'most as smart
as you are."
"It has been a long time," gravely remarked Wayne, "since any man has
been brought to my attention so highly commended as that."
But their talk had been sobering to them both, for they spoke seriously
then of various things. It was probable that before long Wayne would be
ordered to Washington. He wanted to know what Katie would do then. Why
not spend next season in Washington with him? Just what were her plans?
But Katie had no plans. And suddenly she realized how completely all
things had been changed by the coming of Ann.
She had spent much of her life in Washington. She loved it; loved its
official life, in particular its army and diplomatic life; and loved,
too, that rigidly guarded old Washington to which, as her mother's
daughter, the door stood open to her. Her uncle, the Bishop, lived in a
city close by. His home was the fixed spot which Katie called home. In
Washington--and near it--she would find friends on all sides. Just
thirty days before she would have gloated over that prospect of next
But she was not prepared to bombard Washington with Ann. The mere
suggestion carried realization of how propitious things had been, how
simple she had found it.
The little game they were playing seemed to cut Katie off from her life,
too, and without leaving the luxury of feeling sorry for herself. With it
all, Washington did not greatly allure. Washington, as she knew it, was
distinctly things as they were; just now nothing allured half so much as
those long dim paths of wondering leading off into the unknown.
Suddenly she had an odd sense of Washington--all that it represented to
her--being the play, the game, the thing made to order and seeming very
tame to her because she was dwelling with real things. It was as if her
craft of make-believe was the thing which had been able to carry her
toward the shore of reality.
And so she told Wayne that she had no plans. Perhaps she would go back to
Europe with Ann.
He turned quickly at that. "She goes back?"
"Oh yes--I suppose so."
"But why? Where? To whom?"
"Why? Why, why not? Why does one go anywhere? Florence is to Ann what
Washington is to me--a sort of center."
"Katie," he asked abruptly, "has she no people? No ties? Isn't
she--moored any place?"
"Am I 'moored' any place?" returned Kate.
"Why, yes; to the things that have made you--to the things you're part
of. By moored I don't mean necessarily a fixed spot. But I have a
He seemed either unable or unwilling to express it, and instead laughed:
"I'd like to know how much her father made a month, and whether her
mother was a good cook--a few little things like that to make her less a
shadow. Do you really get _at_ her, Katie?"
"Why--why, yes," stammered Katie; "though I told you, Wayne, that Ann was
different. Quiet--and just now, sad."
"I don't think of her as particularly quiet," he replied; "and sad isn't
it, either. I think of her"--he paused and concluded uncertainly--"as a
girl in a dream."
"Her dream or your dream, Wayne?" laughed Katie, just to turn it.
She was throwing sticks for the puppies and missed his startled look.
But it was Katie who was startled when he said, still uncertainly, and
more to himself than to Katie: "Though she's so real."
Ann and Captain Prescott were coming toward them. She had never looked
less like a girl in a dream. Laughing and jesting with her companion, she
looked simply like an exceedingly pretty girl having a very good time.
"But you like Ann, don't you, Wayne?" Katie asked anxiously.
"Yes," said Wayne, "I like her."
She came running up the steps to them, flushed, happy, as free from
self-consciousness as Worth would have been. "Katie," she cried, "I
played the last one in four. Didn't I?" turning proudly to the Captain
Both men were looking at her with pleasure: cheeks flushed, eyes
glowing, hair a little disheveled and a little damp about the forehead,
panting a little, her lithe, beautiful body swaying gently, hands
outstretched to show Wayne how she had hardened her palms, Ann had never
seemed so lovely and so live. In that moment it mattered not whether one
knew anything about the earning capacity of her father or the culinary
abilities of her mother. _She_ was real. Real as sunshine and breezes
and birds are real, as Worth and the puppies tumbling over each other on
the grass were real, as all that is life-loving is real. And not
detached, not mistily floating, but moored to that very love of life,
capacity for life, to that look she had awakened in the faces of the men
to whom she was talking. It seemed a paltry thing just then to wonder
whether Ann was child of farmer, or clothing merchant, or great artist.
She was Life's child. Love's child. Love's child--only she had not
dwelt all her days in her father's house. But it was her father's house;
that was why, once warmed and comforted, she could radiantly take her
place. Watching her as she was going over her game for Wayne,
demonstrating some of her strokes, and her slim, beautiful body made
even the poor strokes wonderful things, Katie was not speculating on
whether Ann had come from Chicago, or Florence, or Big Creek. She was
thinking that Ann was product, expression, of the love of the world,
that love which had brought the laughter and the tears, brought the hope
and the radiance and the tragedy of life.
And then, suddenly and inexplicably, Katie was afraid. Of just what,
she did not know; of things--big, tempestuous things--which Katie did
not very well understand, and which Ann--perhaps not understanding
either--seemed to embody. "Come, Ann," she said, "we must make ready
Captain Prescott called after them that next he was going to teach Ann to
ride. "Oh, we'll make an army girl of her yet," he laughed.
Ann turned back. "Do you know," she said, "I don't understand the army
very well. Just what is it the army does?"
They laughed. "Ask the peace society in Boston," suggested Prescott.
But Wayne said: "Some day soon you and I'll take a ride on the river and
I'll deliver a little lecture on the army."
"Oh, that will be nice," said Ann radiantly.
It was astonishing how Ann seemed to find herself in just that thing of
being able to learn to play golf.
They were gay at dinner that night, and Ann was as gay as any one. She
continued to talk about her game, which they jestingly permitted her to
do, and the men told some good golf stories which she entered into
merrily. It was Katie who was rather quiet. While they still lingered
around the table Fred Wayneworth joined them, and Katie, eager to talk
with him of his people and his work, left Ann alone with Wayne and
Captain Prescott, something which up to that time she had been reluctant
to do. But to-night she did not feel Ann clinging to her, calling out to
her, as she had felt her before. She seemed on surer ground; it was as if
golf had given her a passport. From her place in the garden with her
cousin, Ann's laugh came down to them from time to time--just a girl's
"Who is your stunning friend, Katie?" Fred asked. "No, stunning doesn't
fit her, but lovely. She is lovely, isn't she?"
"Ann's very pretty," said Kate shortly.
"Oh--pretty," he laughed, "that won't do at all. So many girls are
pretty, and I never saw any girl just like her."
Again she was vaguely uneasy, and the uneasiness irritated her, and then
she was ashamed of the irritation. Didn't she want poor Ann to have a
good time--and feel at home--and be admired? Did she care for her when
she was somber and shy, and resent her when happy and confident? She told
herself she was glad to hear Ann laughing; and yet each time the happy
little laugh stirred that elusive foreboding in the not usually
apprehensive soul of Katie Jones.
"I want to tell you about my girl, Katie," her cousin was saying. "I've
got the _only_ girl."
He was off into the story of Helen: Helen, who was a clerk in the forest
service and "put it all over" any girl he had ever known before, who was
worth the whole bunch of girls he had known in the East--girls who had
been brought up like doll-babies and had doll-baby brains. Didn't Katie
agree that a girl who could make her own way distanced the girls who
could do nothing but spend their fathers' money?
In her heart, Katie did; had she been defending Fred to his father, the
Bishop, or to his Bostonian mother, she would have grown eloquent for
Helen. But listening to Fred, it seemed something was being attacked, and
she, unreasonably enough, instead of throwing herself with the aggressor
was in the stormed citadel with her aunt and uncle and the girls with the
And she had been within the citadel that afternoon when Wayne was
attacking the army. She gloried in attacks of her own, but let some one
else begin one and she found herself running for cover--and to defense.
She wondered if that were anything more meaningful than just natural
The Bishop had wanted his son for the church; but Fred not taking
amicably to the cloth, he had urged the navy. Fred had settled that by
failing to pass the examinations for Annapolis. Failing purposely, his
father stormily held; a theory supported by the good work he did
subsequently at Yale. There he became interested in forestry, again to
the disapproval of his parents, who looked upon forestry as an upstart
institution, not hallowed by the mellowing traditions of church or navy.
Now they would hold that Helen proved it.
And Helen did prove something. Certain it was that from neither church
nor navy would Fred have seen his Helen in just this way.
Perhaps it was that democracy Wayne had been talking about. Perhaps
this democracy was a thing not contented with any one section of a
man's life. Perhaps once it _had_ him--it had its way with him. Katie
thought of the last thirty days--of paths leading out from other paths.
Once one started--
Fred's father had never started. Bishop Wayneworth was only democratic
when delivering addresses on the signers of the Declaration of
Independence. The democracy of the past was sanctified; the democracy of
the present, pernicious and uncouth. Thought of her uncle put Katie on
the outside, eyes dancing with the fun of the attack.
"Who are her people, Fred?"
"Oh, Western people--ranchers; best sort of people. They raised the best
crop of potatoes in the valley this year."
Katie yearned to commend the family of her daughter-in-law to her Aunt
Elizabeth with the boast that they raised the best crop of potatoes in
"They had hard sledding for a long time; but they're making a go of it
now. They've worked--let me tell you. Helen wouldn't have to work
now--but don't you say that to Helen! What do you think, Katie? She even
wants to keep on working after we're married!"
That planted Katie firmly within. "Oh, she can't do that, Fred."
"Well, I wish you'd tell her she can't. That's where we are now. We stick
on that point. I try to assert my manly authority, but manly authority
doesn't faze Helen much. She has some kind of theory about the economic
independence of woman. You know anything about it, Katie?"
"You forget that I'm one of the doll-baby girls," she replied in a light
voice which trailed a little bitterness on behind.
"Not you! Just before I left I said to Helen: 'Well there's at least one
relative of mine who will have sense enough to appreciate you, and that's
my corking cousin Katie Jones!'"
That lured feminine Kate outside again. "Fred," she asked, moved by her
never slumbering impulse to find out about things, "just what is it you
care for in Helen? Is she pretty? Funny? Sympathetic? Clever? What?"
She watched his face as he tried to frame it. And watching, she decided
that whatever kind of girl Helen was, she was a girl to be envied. Yes,
and to be admired.
"Well I fear it doesn't sound sufficiently romantic," he laughed, "but
Helen's such a _sturdy_ little wretch. The first things I ever noticed
about her was her horse sense. She's good on her job, too. She seems to
me like the West. Though that's rather amusing, for she's such a little
bit of a thing. She's afraid she'll get fat. But she won't. She's not
"Why of course not," said Katie stoutly, and they laughed and seemed very
near to Helen in thus scorning her fear of getting fat.
He continued his confidences, laughter from the porch coming down to them
all the while. Helen was so real--she was so square--so independent--so
dauntless--and yet she had such dear little ways. He couldn't make her
sound as nice as she was; Katie would have to come and see her. In fact
they were counting on Katie's coming. She was to come and stay a long
time with them and really get acquainted with the West. "I'll tell you
what Helen's like," he summed it up. "She's very much what you would have
been if you'd lived out there and had the advantages she has."
Katie stared. No, he was not trying to be funny.
They started toward the house. "Katie," he broke out, "if you have
any cousinly love in your heart, and know anything about Walt Whitman,
tell me something, so I can go back and spring it on Helen. She's mad
"He was one of the 'advantages' I didn't have," said Katie. "He didn't
play a heavy part in the thing I had that passed for an education."
"Isn't it the limit the way they 'do you' at those girls' schools?"
agreed Fred sympathetically. "Helen says that in religion and education
the more you pay the less you get."
"I should like her," laughed Katie.
But what would her Aunt Elizabeth think of a "sturdy little wretch,"
believing in the economic independence of woman--whatever that might
be--with lots of horse sense, and good on her job!
Katie was on the outside now, and for good. If nothing else, the fun was
out there. And there was something else. That light on Fred's face when
he was trying to tell about Helen.
Captain Prescott had come down the steps to meet them. "I was just coming
for you. Don't you think, Katie, it would be fun to look in on the dance
up here at the club house?"
On the alert for shielding Ann, Katie demurred. It was late, and Ann was
tired from her golf.
There was an eager little flutter, and Ann had stepped forward. "Oh, I'm
not at all tired, Katie," she said.
"Does she _look_ tired?" scoffed Wayne. "She's only tired of being made
to play the invalid. Hurry along, Katie. If you girls aren't
sufficiently befrocked, frock up at once."
Katie hesitated, annoyed. She felt shorn of the function of her office.
And she was dubious. The party was one which the younger set over the
river were giving--at the golf club-house on the Island--for the returned
college boys. She did not know who might be there--she was always meeting
friends of her friends. She felt a trifle injured in thinking that just
for the sake of Ann she had avoided the social life those people offered
her, and now--
Ann was speaking again, her voice stripped of the happy eagerness. "Just
as you say, Katie. It is late, and perhaps I am--too tired."
That moved Katie. That a girl should not be privileged to be insistent
about going to a dance--it seemed depriving her of her birthright. And
more cruel than taking away a birthright was bringing the consciousness
of having no birthright.
Katie entered gayly into the plans. They decided that Ann was to wear the
rose-colored muslin--the same gown she had worn that first night. As she
was fastening it for her Katie saw that Ann was smiling at herself in the
mirror, giving herself little pats of approval here and there.
She had not done that the first time Katie helped her into that dress.
But it was the Ann of the first days who turned strained face to her in
the dressing-room at the club-house. All the girlish radiance--girlish
vanity--was gone. "Katie," she whispered, "I think I'd better go home.
I--I didn't know it would be like this. So many people--so many
Gently Katie reassured her. Ann needing her was the Ann she knew how to
care for, and would care for in the face of all the people--all the
"lights--and things." "You needn't dance if you don't want to," she
told her. "I'll tell Wayne to look out for you, that you're really not
able to meet people. If I put him on guard he'll go through fire and
water for you."
"Yes--I know that," said Ann, and seemed to take heart.
And for some time she did not dance. From the floor Katie Would get
glimpses of Ann and Wayne sauntering on the veranda on which the
ball-room opened. More than once she found Ann's eyes following her--Ann
out in the shadow, looking in at the gay people in the light.
But with the opening of a lively two-step Captain Prescott insisted Ann
dance with him. "Oh come now," he urged. "Life's too short to sit on the
side lines. This is a ripping two-step."
The music, too, was urgent--and persuasive. As if without volition she
fell into gliding little steps, moving toward the dancing floor.
It was Katie who watched that time. She wanted to see Ann dancing. At
first it puzzled her; she was too graceful not to dance well, but she
danced as if differently trained, as if unaccustomed to their way of
dancing. But as the two-step progressed she fell into the swing of it
and seemed no different from the rest of the pretty, happy girls all
She was radiant when she came back to them. Like the golf, the dancing
seemed to have given her confidence--and confidence, happiness.
Though she still shrank from meeting people. Katie fell in with a whole
troop of college boys who hovered around her, as both college boys and
their elders were wont to hover around Katie. She wanted to bring some of
them to Ann, but Ann demurred. "Oh no, Katie. I don't want to dance with
any strange men, please. Just our own."
Why, Katie wondered, should one not wish to dance with "strange men." It
seemed so curious a thing to shrink from. Katie herself had never felt at
all strange with "strange men." Nice fellows were nice fellows the world
over, and she never felt farther from strange than when dancing with a
nice man--strange or otherwise. Even in the swing of her gayety Katie
wondered what it was could make one feel like that. And she wondered what
Wayne must think of that plaintive little "Just our own" which she was
sure he had overheard.
Katie had come out at last to say she thought they should go. Ann must
not get too tired.
But just then the orchestra began dreaming out a waltz, one of those
waltzes lovers love to remember having danced together. "Now there," said
Wayne, "is a nice peaceful waltz. You'll have to wait, Katie," and his
arm was about Ann and they had glided away together.
Katie told her cousin she would rather not dance. "Let's stand here and
watch," she said.
Couple after couple passed by, not the crowd of the gay two-step of a few
moments before. Few were talking; some were gently humming, many
dreaming--with a veiled smile for the dream. It was one of those waltzes
to find its way back to cherished moments, flood with lovely color the
dear things held apart. Fred was saying he wished Helen were there. Katie
turned from the vivid picture out to the subtle night--warm summer's
night. The dreaming music carried her back to vanished things--other
waltzes, other warm summer's nights, to the times when she had been, in
her light-hearted fashion, in love, to those various flirtations for
which she had more tenderness than regret just for the glimpses they
brought. And suddenly the heart of things gone seemed to flow into a
great longing for that never known tenderness and wildness of feeling
that sobbed in the music. She was being borne out to the heart of the
night, and at the heart of the night some one waited for her with arms
held out. But as she was swept nearer the some one was the man who mended
the boats! With a little catch of her breath for that sorry twist of her
consciousness that must make lovely moments ludicrous ones, she turned
back to the bright room--crowded, colorful, moving room which seemed set
in the vast, soft night.
Her brother was just passing--her brother and her friend Ann Forrest.
They did not look out at her. They did not seem to know that Katie was
near. She had never seen Ann's face so beautiful. It had that beauty
she had all the while seen as possible for it, only more intense, more
exalted than she had been able to foresee it. The music stopped on a
sob. Every one was still for an instant--then they were applauding for
more. Ann was not clapping. Katie had never seen anything as beautiful
as that look of rapt loveliness on Ann's face as she stood there
waiting. She might have been the very spirit of love waiting in the
mists at the heart of the night. As softly the music began again and
Wayne once more guided her in and out among those boys and girls--boys
and girls for whom life had meant little more than laughing and
dancing--Katie had a piercing vision of the girl with her hands over her
face stumbling on toward the river.
They were all very quiet on the way home.
That night just as she was falling asleep Katie was startled. It seemed
at first she was being awakened by a sharp dart, one of those darts of
apprehension seemed shot into her approaching slumber. But it was nothing
more than Wayne whistling out on the porch, whistling the dreaming waltz
which would bear one to the love waiting at the heart of the night.
But Katie was sleepy now. How did Wayne expect any one to go to sleep,
she thought crossly, whistling at that time of night.
But across the hall was another girl who listened. She had not been
asleep. She had been lying there looking out into the night, very wide
awake. And when she heard the whistling she too sat up in bed, swaying
ever so gently to the rhythm of it, inarticulately following it under her
breath and smiling a hushed, tender little smile. Something lovely seemed
stealing over her. But in the wake of it was something else--something
cold, blighting. Before he had finished she had covered her ears with her
hands, and was sobbing.
As she looked back afterward upon that span of days, searching them,
translating, Katie saw that the day of the golf and the dancing marked
the farthest advance.
After that it was as if Ann, frightened at finding herself so far out in
the open, shrank back into the shadows. But having gone a little way into
the open she was not again the same girl of the shadows. Her response to
life seeming thwarted, there came an incipient sullenness in her view of
that life which she had reached over the bridge of make-believe.
It did not show itself at once, but afterward it seemed to Katie that the
next day marked the beginning of Ann's retreat on the bridge of
And she wondered whether the stray dog or the dangerous literature had
most to do with that retreat.
Ann was pale and quiet the day after the dance, and it was not merely the
languor of the girl who has fatigued herself in having a good time.
At luncheon Katie suddenly demanded: "Wayne, where do you get dangerous
"I don't know what form of danger you're courting, Katie. I have a
valuable work on high explosives, and I have a couple of volumes of De
"Oh I weathered all that kind of danger long ago," said she airily. "I
want the kind that is distressing editors of church papers. The man who
edits this religious paper uncle sends me is a most unchristian
gentleman. He devoted a whole page to talking about dangerous literature
and then didn't tell you where to get it. Well, I'll try Walt Whitman.
He's very popular in the West, I'm told, and as the West likes danger
perhaps he's dangerous enough to begin on."
"And you feel, do you, Katie, that the need of your life just now is
"Yes, dear brother. Danger I must have at any cost. What's the good
living in a dangerous age if you don't get hold of any of the danger?
This unchristian editor says that little do we realize what a dangerous
age it is. And he says it's the literature that's making it so. Then find
the literature. Only he--beast!--doesn't tell you where to."
Worth there requested the privilege of whispering in his Aunt Kate's ear.
The ear being proffered, he poured into it: "I guess the man that mends
the boats has got some dangerous literature, Aunt Kate."
"Tell him to endanger Aunt Kate," she whispered back.
"Do you suppose there is any way, Wayne," she began, after a moment of
seeming to have a very good time all to herself, "of getting back the
money we spent for my so-called education?"
"It would considerably enrich us," grimly observed Wayne.
"When doctors or lawyers don't do things right can't you sue them and
get your money back? Why can't you do the same thing with educators? I'm
going to enter suit against Miss Sisson. This unchristian editor says
modern education is dangerous; but there was no danger in the course at
Miss Sisson's. I want my money back."
"That you may invest it in dangerous literature?" laughed Wayne.
After he had gone Ann was standing at the window, looking down toward the
river. Suddenly she turned passionately upon Katie. "If you had ever had
anything to _do_ with danger--you might not be so anxious to find it."
She was trembling, and seemed close to tears. Katie felt it no time to
And when she spoke again the tears were in her voice. "I can't tell
you--when I begin to talk about it--" The tears were in her eyes, too,